Microfilm version of The Sins of the Cities of the Plain; or, The Recollections of a Mary-Ann, with Short Essays on Sodomy and Tribadism.
This 1881 edition was published in London by William Lazenby. The original copy is held by the British Museum, this microfilm version is held by Stanford University. It is considered one of the first exclusively homosexual works ofpornographic literature published in English.
May 23, 2021 Subject:
This is classified as the first gay porn fiction - and fiction it is, though claiming to be purely a memoir. Not exactly a masterpiece of titillation, its appeal lies in revealing the hidden underside of an era identified with the most hidebound respectability, all silk hats and servants who knew their place. Well, it seems that some of them didn’t, even though our narrator and others are possibly conflated from more than one real-life character of 1880’s London.
The Cleveland Street scandal is familiar to the huge army of Jack-the-Ripper hobbyists, even though the story of Jack’s connection with the gay brothel beside the Middlesex Hospital has been rubbished. It acquired new interest because the heir presumptive to the throne, the troubled Prince Eddy, was shown to have been present on a night when some other young aristocrats were arrested in a police raid. (It seems that all of them had been drinking, and that some had not realised what kind of place it was.)
At any rate, that particular house of shame is the secret rendezvous where well-heeled gay gents take their pleasure with teenage boys who don’t mind exchanging a few bodily fluids in return for a couple of months’ pay. And that house can tell a few stories indeed, many of them highly believable. Only one episode sounds to me made-up, the humble draper’s assistant delivering a roll of silk to a mansion in Piccadilly, where milady offers him a drink and seduces him. I can imagine too many drapers’ assistants fantasizing about that one as the great and the glamorous parade past their counter.
Otherwise you’re in for quite a programme of forbidden mischief when the shades are drawn. As for the groupie stuff, well, you don’t get far in this business unless you’re willing to be part of a three-way sandwich, as the narrator recalls without a blush. That, too, might be a suspicious sign. Everything seems to go rather too smoothly to be believed. Every participant is willing. Every husband is complaisant. And not a mention of those certain diseases - a major embarrassment to Victorian society, with massive hush-money being negotiated behind the respectable doors of Harley Street.